Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Cheer from the Russell Library!

Inspired by a large knit American flag, the Russell Library's own Adriane Hanson (electronic records guru, knitter extraordinaire) created this miniature Georgia flag version as a holiday gift!

Adriane told us that to design the project, she used a combination of the specifications for the flag to get the internal proportions correct, and information from a flag request form to get the right length vs. height proportions. "Each stripe and the blue square were knit separately with a seed stitch and then pieced together," she said, adding that "the seal was made with felt and a sharpie, with a few modifications from the original to make it possible, and the seal and stars are sewn on.”

The changing design of the Georgia State Flag is quite interesting and political.  You can read more about it here: State Flags of Georgia

Sharing this photo to add a a little holiday cheer to your day. Happy holidays from the Russell Library!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Application Deadline Extended for Community Docent Program

The University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Building for Special Collections Libraries is extending the application deadline for participation in its docent program to Friday, January 9, 2015.

The Docent Corps is a skilled group of volunteers who provide tours of the exhibit galleries to visitors, ranging from fifth graders to adults. Docents are trained to highlight permanent and rotating exhibitions and to help increase awareness of the many resources offered by the three special collections libraries: The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The Walter J. Brown Media Archive and Peabody Awards Collections, and The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies.

A 10-week training program, hosted from Feb. 17 through Apr. 21, provides an opportunity for docents to meet curators, archivists, and other special collections staff, learn about the collections and techniques for leading tours, and become familiar with all parts of the Special Collections Libraries Building. Follow-up monthly meetings throughout the year provide opportunities to learn about new exhibits in the galleries and programs sponsored by the three special collections libraries.

The program seeks applicants who are enthusiastic, flexible, and open to working with visitors of all ages. No previous experience in the arts or humanities is required, but a love of history and experience with teaching or public speaking is desired. For more information about the training schedule and expectations, please visit the FAQ’s page. Interested individuals can apply online by visiting:

Applications must be submitted by Friday, January 9, 2015. Please direct any questions to Jan Hebbard at or (706) 542-5788. Note: All candidates selected for admission to the docent program will be required to submit to a background investigation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

“I do not belong to any organized party”: Making Sense of the Democratic Party of Georgia Records

Note: In February of this year, the Russell Library embarked on a one-year project to process the records of the Democratic Party of Georgia (Georgia Democrats) and the Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP), funded by a generous grant of up to $58,777 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Project archivist Angelica Marini has been providing a series of short articles throughout this year highlighting various aspects of the records as she works to organize, describe and make them available. In this blog post for the project, Angelica provides an introduction and overview of the records of the Democratic Party of Georgia, which are scheduled to open for research in January.

Governor-elect Jimmy Carter (left) and
David Gambrell, at the State Democratic Convention
in Macon, Georgia, 1970. 
In 1970, newly elected Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appointed David Gambrell to the position of state Democratic Party Chairman. To celebrate the appointment, Democratic friends gave him a cake in the shape of a donkey. Written across the donkey in icing was Will Roger’s infamous quote about Democratic Party politics: “I do not belong to any organized party. I am a Democrat.”

This satirical Will Rogers quote unintentionally reflects some of the major problems I faced as I began making sense of the DPG’s records. When the party donated its records to the Russell Library, they were not especially disorganized, but it took considerable time to determine how the records were arranged and used by the party. What I discovered is that the DPG records document the party’s actions and work more than political plans, elections, and campaigns.

The Democratic Party of Georgia Records (1962-2007) cover an historic period of Democratic domination in state politics. The DPG records offer researchers an inside look at a strong and powerful organization but also one that was minimally organized. While the party was organized centrally at state party headquarters, they exercised their political power with a very lean organizational structure. The bulk of the collection (1968-1990) is comprised of records created and accumulated by officials and staff of the DPG. The records are arranged in seven series that represent the functions and organization of the party: I. Administrative, II. County and District, III. Financial, IV. Committees and Conventions, V. Campaigns and Elections, and VI. Photographs and Ephemera, and VII. Audiovisual Materials.

Prior to the Civil Rights movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the DPG was a racially conservative party committed to the system of segregation. The Civil Rights movement changed the predominantly white Democratic Party into an organization that better reflected the racial dynamics of the state. In the 1970s, the formerly conservative party aligned with more liberal national policies and platforms; it was a party in transition.

In 1975, the Democrats weathered major organizational changes and convened its first ever Charter Convention, where they codified policies, outlined new goals, and drafted new rules for delegate selection. Some of these changes created greater access for minorities as affirmative action became an effective way of including those who were formerly excluded by law and tradition. These kinds of changes were common for Democratic parties in southern states after the Civil Rights movement as engrained ties to Jim Crow were systematically transformed through legislation as well as in the regional political culture.

In the late 1970s, all county committees were charged with reorganizing according to the rules of the new state charter; other changes loosened the ties to state government and the role of the governor in the party. These changes created greater diversity within party politics but also in the electorate at large. The records of the DPG document some of the most important political transitions specific to the state but also to region-wide changes that affected the national political landscape.

The earliest records in the collection, which date from the 1960s, are primarily financial and administrative, documenting the party’s involvement in county, state, and national politics. The day-to-day activity and function of the state party are reflected in administrative correspondence. Letters to and from the Chairmen and Executive Directors relate to a number of topics including finances, organization, and membership. The financial records also tell part of the administrative story as fundraising records show a party bankrolled by major events like the Dollars for Democrats campaign and the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

The largest series of records, Committees and Conventions, document the work of local and statewide committees and the conventions that party members attended. The Democratic Party was an organization with power dispersed throughout the state. The major work of the party was done at the local level and the interactions between the state party staff and their county, district, and regional committees and chairs and these records reflect a party in action. The State Democratic Executive Committee, the State Democratic Committee of Georgia, Standing Committees, Special Committees, Democratic County Committees, and Precinct Coordinators all had important roles in making the party function in power. Committees and conventions may seem like two separate organizational functions, but the records they produced were inseparable; most of the committees’ work was made official through convention dialogue and voting.

Congratulatory cake, featuring quote by Will Rogers,
for David Gambrell, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, 1970.
Overall, The Democratic Party of Georgia Records are an important source for understanding the historic and dramatic changes in the political landscape of the state and region. The records document the active work carried out by the party rather than the strategy and deliberation behind political platforms and policy planning. The DPG, as it existed in the late twentieth century, was the political power in the state and, as a result, did not generate the kind of political plans that the GAGOP did in their formative years. What these records demonstrate instead is how the party operated throughout the state. Administrative and financial records reflect an existing system of political activity related to fundraising with minimal interference from state headquarters. County and district materials reflect the power of distinct groups within the state party. Notably, the records also have a significant digital component, which you can read about in an earlier blog post, Let’s Get Digital!: Electronic Records Day 2014.

Post by Angelica Marini, Project Archivist, Russell Library